The Last House on the Left (2009) [Arrow Limited Edition] 

A gang on the run after their leader escapes bumps into two college students in a small town. Things go very wrong and soon one is dead and the other left for dead. As a storm comes in, the gang finds their way to a lake house where the owners do not take well to what they’ve done. 

Based on the original film by Wes Craven (who gets a writing credit here), this version written by Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth and directed by Dennis Iliadis is plenty brutal and violent, so much so that parts of the film could easily be described as vile. The original is a classic, so remaking it was a tall order and it’s a decently done remake to be honest. The turning point event, the rape and murder, is brutal as brutal can be, it’s uncomfortable, it’s overdrawn, overly in your face, but some will want this to be this way. Others, like me, could have done with more cuts or perhaps a different angle showing others or something. Here, it’s a rough watch for anyone and for some, it will be a “turning the film off” moment, much like the original. For those who make it past that sequence, the revenge aspect takes on a much stronger importance. The scene is both needed and not needed, there is something to be said for the implied versus what is shown. That being said, the rest of the film is also rather brutal with some good revenge bits throughout. The dispatching of the bad guy is well done, violent, almost satisfying. And then there’s that microwave scene. I mean, why? Of well, it happened. 

The cast here is really good, like super solid, giving the viewer an odd family dynamic in the gang and a more regular, if somewhat unhappy, dynamic with the leads. The dichotomy between the two families helps set up the film and the battle in the house, the way the case works within these families, or sides, is exactly what the film needs. On the good side, we have Sara Paxton as the surviving victim who once she gets home doesn’t get much fighting, but her work as her character suffers through it all and through getting help is stunning in how real she makes it. Playing her father is Tony Goldwyn who is both caring and angry, showing a balance between the two that works just right. Playing her mother is Monica Potter and she does quite well as the quieter character who finds her strength for her daughter. On the other side, we get Garrett Dillahunt as Krug, a tough role with big shoes to fill. He’s good here, but for fans of the original, something will feel like it’s missing. His performance works, but he feels somehow less brutal, or something? Riki Lindholme plays his girlfriend who just watches at times, but also participates, there are layers in how Lindholme plays her, and it works. Aaron Paul plays the right-hand man and he’s a nasty fellow here, working the part, making it something take takes over scenes and makes some room for himself. His death scene is just right too. Spencer Treat Clark is the younger of the gang and there is something about him, something from the start, that the actor works on having there, sometimes in the open and sometimes just under the surface. His work here is scene stealing at times. Of course, the other victim, Mari’s friend Paige, gets some good scenes, but it is mostly there to be a victim and nothing more. Martha MacIsaac makes the most of this. The cast overall is really good, some of them had much bigger shoes to fills than the others from the original film and thus those who are familiar with it may see their work through a nostalgia lens and it may take away from their work, do not let it, do not fall for this. When watching this as a brand-new movie, the performances are great. 

Now, onto the special effects, because there is one scene in particular that goes super bloody and brutally realistic (beyond the rape which has no special effects to speak of), the scene with the sink trash disposal. Those who have seen it will know right away what this refers to. Seeing names like Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger in the credits makes sense. Their work here is stellar, particularly in this scene. They are at the top of the game for a reason. Also, great to see here is the low usage of CGI, keeping it to a minimum which always helps a film age better. 

The Last House on the Left remake is a nasty piece of rape-revenge cinema that involves two very different families coming face to face and with only one outcome the public would be ok with which is what the film gives us. It’s well shot, well edited, the effects are stellar, the performances are solid, but it is a brutal film (for better or for worse) that not all will want to watch. The uncut version included in this new release set from Arrow does not flinch and is even more brutal than the theatrical release which is also on the set. The uncut is on the Blu while the theatrical is on the 4K disc, which seems like an odd move, but perhaps they could not get the additional scenes in the uncut were not available for upgrading the definition.  

The special features on this set are numerous and are split between the Blu disc and the 4K disc, seemingly at random, but considering they are extras, it seems ok. The set has some of the obvious extras like an image gallery, the trailer, deleted scenes, lots of behind-the-scenes stuff, a bunch of interviews, new artwork, etc. The best ones are definitely the interviews with Garrett Dillahunt and Sara Paxton, two interviews that play well against each other. The discs are full of stuff though, so there is something for everyone, even those who might not like the film. 

The Arrow Limited Edition of The Last House on the Left (2009) comes out 9/12/2023